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Growing a startup business now almost inevitability means growing the infrastructure you’ve built your business on. Costly IT often forms the bedrock of this infrastructure – so what happens if you need to grow but you don’t have the capital to invest in sophisticated systems?
The great news is, there are plenty of ways you can grow without spending a fortune on IT. While there are huge benefits that come when you implement cutting edge technology like SD WAN or MPLS systems – you can often spend a fraction of the price and still keep pace with your competitors.
It has been explored a handful of ways you can grow your systems – without your budget taking a big impact
Outsourcing your IT support
When your IT needs grow, so does the requirement that you keep those server lights on.
Downtime can cost businesses enormous amount of money – both in lost trade and wasted employee resources. The thing is, if you want to make sure you’re open for business and at full operating capacity at all times, you need IT experts as the oil on your machine.
When you do, you unlock the kind of IT talent that would be virtually impossible for many startups to bring onboard. Sure, you need to share that talent with a number of other businesses – but that also means you get to pay just a fraction of the traditional in-house IT team cost.
With an MSP, you’ll get the guarantee of a certain level of ‘uptime’ each month – and you’ll be able to build other services into your working agreement too, such as growth planning and help sourcing and working with the right kind of applications your business will need to thrive.
Using open source software
On the subject of applications and software, you might have seen eye-watering prices if you’ve put costs together for big mainstream application use across your full team.
The thing is, the most well-known applications that form the cornerstone of many businesses are also the costliest. It stands to reason too: the bigger the budget, the further marketing can reach.
You might be pleased to hear that for every Adobe and Microsoft in the world, there are countless open source developers that are creating software that’s completely free to use and repurpose for your company.
The open source movement is about more than just saving money of course. The industry is underpinned by the idea that the best systems shouldn’t be the preserve of the wealthiest individuals or companies – and if you’re starting up in business, this is likely to appeal.
If you dig into a resource like SourceForge, you’ll find a host of incredible applications that satisfy virtually every industry on the planet. What’s more, if the application isn’t exactly right as it is, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find someone who’ll adjust it to meet your needs – after all, open source means that the code is free to access and adjust for anyone willing to do so.
Look at ‘as a service’ solutions
Sometimes, there’s no avoiding working with the biggest companies out there – and that’s often the case when you’re looking for central infrastructure for your business.
The good news is, just because you need a Microsoft Exchange Server (for instance), it doesn’t mean you have to part with a fortune to get up and running.
Increasingly, companies are offering their infrastructure products ‘as a service’ – a ‘pay as you go’ approach to building infrastructure for organisations. To continue the Exchange Server example, this means you can rent your own exchange server from Microsoft – and it’ll be immediately accessible through the cloud.
In truth, you don’t get the same stand-alone unit that you would if you parted with thousands to have one delivered to your office – but this is rarely necessary. Instead, you’ll get a virtual server that’s part of a very secure and well-maintained Microsoft Data Centre. The difference? Well, there isn’t one really – unless you enjoy having a server sitting in the corner of your office. Of course, there’s a big difference in price – and this unlocks incredible sophisticated systems for companies that simply could not have justified the spend before cloud computing became capable of carrying the data needed.
Perhaps the ultimate money-saving tip that small businesses can use is to simply avoid buying IT equipment at all.
There’s a good chance you’ll need to incentivise this – but if you do, you’ll have a workforce that’s using hardware they’re comfortable with, and it hasn’t cost you anything.
You will run into data protection issues – after all, you don’t want customer’s credit card details going home with staff. This isn’t to question trust – simply that private individuals can’t be expected to maintain the same level of data security as a company should.
When you’ve got security worries handled, you’re likely to see some enormous benefits that comes when workers are using their own equipment. BYOD isn’t without it’s downsides, but when employees are comfortable with their devices, studies show that you can often see productivity increases of over 10%. These kind of gains scale up impressively – since this would represent an additional 4 hours of productivity each week. Add that up over the year, and that’s an extra 160 hours of output – or 4 full working weeks.
When you’re starting up as a new business, productivity and efficiency are of the utmost importance – so it’s great to know that you can harness this – while also making sure your IT costs are firmly under control.